The Pakistan School on Internet Governance (pkSIG) was held in Islamabad from 05-08 October. The school was hosted and organized by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan together with National Textile University of Pakistan. The school was conceived by the local community, which elicited the support of the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Middle East Office and the Internet Society (ISOC) Asia-Pacific Bureau in organizing pkSIG, aimed to orient individuals from a broad range of backgrounds on issues related with Internet governance and its importance to the future of the Internet.
Pakistan is getting into the habit of organizing activities around Internet governance. Last year, the ISOC Asia-Pacific Bureau held an Asia Internet Symposium (AIS) in Islamabad on “Internet Governance in Pakistan; Building multi-stakeholder collaboration.” Early this year, the Ministry of IT conducted a one-day workshop on “Internet Governance and Role of its Stakeholders”; and now pkSIG came along to further strengthen discussions on Internet governance.
The school hosted 40 students from different parts of the community, including representatives from the regulator’s office, academia, civil society and industry. Lecturers discussed the history of the Internet, and provided an introduction to Internet governance, the evolution of the Internet and IG ecosystem in Pakistan, regional Internet registries, ICANN and ISOC, Internet public policy, cyber laws, mobile Internet and the Internet of Things.
While students encountered a lot of technical and Internet policy-related terms for the first time on the first day, they quickly got into the discussions and were thoroughly interested to learn more. Further inspiring them were the participation of a Senator at the opening ceremony and the Minister for IT at the closing session.
“It was a great learning experience. All things about APNIC, ISOC and ICANN were new to me. Being affiliated with the software industry, I was exposed to a whole new paradigm of Internet governance and sophisticated, multi-stakeholder mechanism that organize, regulate and produce new developments on the Internet,” says one of the students.
Among the participants was Muhammad Shabir, a visually impaired person who made significant contributions to the discussions especially on web accessibility. I asked him what the Internet is to him, and answering in his native language, he said: “The Internet is like a treasure that enables me to learn, educate and empower myself.”
The pkSIG indeed demonstrated the need to educate individuals from developing countries on issues pertaining to the governance of—and on–the Internet.